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International Journal of Polymer Science
Volume 2017, Article ID 6812619, 5 pages
Research Article

Reversible Shaping of Microwells by Polarized Light Irradiation

1Dipartimento di Scienza Applicata e Tecnologia, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy
2Centro per le Tecnologie Future Sostenibili, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Corso Trento 21, 10129 Torino, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Angelo Angelini; ti.otilop@inilegna.olegna

Received 11 August 2017; Revised 12 October 2017; Accepted 26 October 2017; Published 3 December 2017

Academic Editor: Nobuhiro Kawatsuki

Copyright © 2017 Federica Pirani et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the last years, stimuli-responsive polymeric materials have attracted great interest, due to their low cost and ease of structuration over large areas combined with the possibility to actively manipulate their properties. In this work, we propose a polymeric pattern of soft-imprinted microwells containing azobenzene molecules. The shape of individual elements of the pattern can be controlled after fabrication by irradiation with properly polarized light. By taking advantage of the light responsivity of the azobenzene compound, we demonstrate the possibility to reversibly modulate a contraction-expansion of wells from an initial round shape to very narrow slits. We also show that the initial shape of the microconcavities can be restored by flipping the polarization by 90°. The possibility to reversibly control the final shape of individual elements of structured surfaces offers the opportunity to engineer surface properties dynamically, thus opening new perspectives for several applications.